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|Stylistic origins||Alternative rock, heavy metal and others|
|Cultural origins||Mid–late 1980s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, drums|
|Nu metal, funk metal, rap metal|
|Los Angeles - New York - Japan|
|Timeline of alternative rock - Experimental metal - Industrial metal - Grunge - Post-hardcore|
Alternative metal usually takes elements of heavy metal with influences from genres like alternative rock, and other genres not normally associated with metal. Alternative metal bands are often characterized by heavy guitar riffs, melodic vocals, unconventional sounds within other heavy metal genres, unconventional song structures and sometimes experimental approaches to heavy music. The term has been in usage since the 1980s, although it came into prominence in the 1990s. It has spawned several subgenres, including nu metal, which expands the alternative metal sound, commonly adding influences from hip hop and thrash metal.
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The origins of the genre can be traced back to funk rock music of the early to mid-1980s, when alternative bands like Fishbone, Faith No More and The Red Hot Chili Peppers started mixing heavy metal with funk, creating the alternative metal subgenre funk metal. Other early bands in the genre also came from hardcore punk backgrounds. Bands such as Faith No More, Jane's Addiction and Soundgarden are recognized as some of the earliest alternative metal acts, with all three of these bands emerging around the same time, and setting the template for the genre by mixing heavy metal music with a variety of different genres in the mid to late 80s. During the 1980s, alternative metal appealed mainly to alternative rock fans, since virtually all 1980s alt-metal bands had their roots in the American independent rock scene.
The emergence of grunge as a popular style of hard rock music in the early 1990s helped make alternative metal more acceptable to a mainstream audience, with alternative metal soon becoming the most popular metal style of the 90s. Several bands associated with the genre denied their status as metal bands. Helmet drummer John Stanier said "We fell into the whole metal thing by accident, we always hated it when people mentioned metal in conjunction with us.” The alternative music festival Lollapalooza conceived by Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell, helped bands associated with the movement such as Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Primus, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains gain exposure. The progressive rock-influenced band Tool became a leading band in the alternative metal genre with the release of their 1993 debut album Undertow; Tool's popularity in the mid-'90s helped kick off an era of bands with alt-metal tendencies also classified in other genres like industrial (Nine Inch Nails) and rap rock (Rage Against the Machine). Many established 1980s metal bands released albums in the 1990s that were described as alternative metal, including Metallica.
In the later part of the 90s, a second, more aggressive wave of alternative metal emerged; dubbed nu metal, it often relied more on thrash metal and hip hop influences, as opposed to the influences of the original first wave of alternative metal bands, with this style subsequently becoming more popular than alternative metal. It resulted in a more standardized sound among alternative metal bands, in contrast to the more eccentric and unclassifiable early alternative metal bands.
Joel McIver believes Tool to be important in the development of this genre and wrote in his book Unleashed: The Story of Tool "By 1996 and '97 the wave of alternative metal spearheaded by Tool in the wake of grunge was beginning to evolve into nu-metal." However lead singer Maynard James Keenan was quick to separate himself from this movement saying "I'm sick of that whole attitude. The one that put's Tool in with [nu] metal bands. The press... can't seem to distinguish between alternative and metal." Other alternative metal bands considered influential to the nu metal genre such as Helmet have also tried to distance themselves from the movement.
Some bands associated with the nu metal movement such as System of a Down and Deftones are still classed as alternative metal, due to being closer in sound to alternative rock.
The genre has been described by some as part of alternative rock and heavy metal, Bands may tend to feature clean singing influenced by those of alternative rock, in contrast to other heavy metal subgenres. However, more recent bands have also incorporated vocal styles like growls and screaming. It also can feature aggressive guitar riffs as well. Unlike nu metal, alternative metal may feature guitar solos.
Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times has stated "Just as rock has an alternative, [left] wing-bands like the Replacements and Dinosaur Jr.-so does metal. Alternative metal is alternative music that rocks. And alternative metal these days can reach 10 times the audience of other alternative rock. Jane's Addiction plays an intense brand of '70s-influenced arty metal; so does Soundgarden. In fact, the arty meanderings of Sab and the Zep themselves would be considered alternative metal."
The first wave of alternative metal band's emerged from many different backgrounds, including hardcore punk (Rollins Band, Life of Agony, Corrosion of Conformity), noise rock (Helmet, The Jesus Lizard, White Zombie), Seattle's grunge scene (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden), stoner rock (Clutch, Kyuss, Monster Magnet), sludge metal (Fudge Tunnel, Melvins), post-hardcore (Quicksand, Hum), gothic metal (Type O Negative) and industrial (Ministry, Nine Inch Nails). These bands never formed a distinct movement or scene; rather they were bound by their incorporation of traditional metal influences and openness to experimentation. Jane's Addiction borrowed from art rock and progressive rock, Quicksand blended post-hardcore and Living Colour injected funk into their sound, for example, while Primus included influence from progressive rock, thrash metal and funk and Faith No More mixed progressive rock, funk and hip hop. Bands such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu mixed psychedelic rock, retro style heavy metal and punk rock influences into their brand of alternative metal, which would later become commonly known as stoner rock. Fudge Tunnel's style of alternative metal included influences from both sludge metal and noise rock.
See also 
- Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-81127-8.
- Grierson, Tim. "Alternative Metal - What Is Alternative Metal - Alt-Metal History". About.com. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
- "Alternative Metal". AllMusic. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Rap-Metal". Allmusic. Retrieved November 21, 2012. "Rap-Metal seeks to fuse the most aggressive elements of hardcore rap and heavy metal, and became an extremely popular variation of alternative metal during the late '90s...In spite of projects like 1993's much-hyped Judgment Night soundtrack -- which featured all-star teamings of artists from the rap and rock worlds -- crossover collaborations faded as the '90s wore on. At the same time, rap-metal began to draw influences from alternative metal -- specifically, bands like Helmet, White Zombie, and Tool, who relied on crushingly heavy sonic textures more than catchy songwriting or immediately memorable riffs. The thick sound and the lack of melodic emphasis fit rap-metal's concerns perfectly. With the exception of Rage Against the Machine's angry left-wing politics, most rap-metal bands during the mid- to late '90s blended an ultra-aggressive, testosterone-heavy theatricality with either juvenile humor or an introspective angst learned through alternative metal..."
- Grow, Kory (2013-03-20). "Not a Downer: Tool's Adam Jones Talks 'Opiate' Reissue, New Material | SPIN | Q & A". SPIN. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- "Industrial Metal". AllMusic. Retrieved November 20, 2012. "Either way, industrial metal generally possesses greater aggressive force than straight-ahead industrial, which helped the style cross over to metal and alternative audiences accustomed to guitar-driven music. Industrial metal lyrics also mirror the darkness and aggression of standard heavy metal, although the sensibility is filtered through the personal alienation of punk and alternative rock...In the wake of NIN's success, a number of similar-sounding bands popped up on alternative radio, and toward the end of the decade, a number of popular alternative metal bands appropriated industrial metal's electronic production touches into their hybrid of aggressive music styles."
- Henderson, Alex. "Sourvein Will to Mangle". AllMusic. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- Crean, Patricia. "'Alice' will rattle some chains". Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
- "Jesters of Destiny". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- Funk Metal. "Funk Metal : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- Punk Metal. "Punk Metal : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide. London, England: Jawbone Press. p. 482. ISBN 1-906002-01-0.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Faith No More - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- Grierson, Tim. "Soundgarden Biography". About.com. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- Prato, Greg. "Nothing's Shocking - Jane's Addiction : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- Unleashed: The Story of Tool - Joel McIver - Google Books. Books.google.com.au. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. HarperCollins. Chapter 13 Transforming the 1990s: The Black Album & Beyond.
- Relative, Saul (August 21, 2008). "New Metallica -- 'The Day that Never Comes' Has Arrived". Yahoo! Voices. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Stoner Metal. "Stoner Metal : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- comments policy 155 comments posted. "Helmet: We're Better Than 99.9% Of The Other Bands Out There | News @". Ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Weatherford, Mike (15 October 1999). "Mr. Bungle serving up pop music from Mars". The Las Vegas Review-Journal. pp. 32J
- Berelian, Essi. The Rough Guide to Heavy Metal. p. 349. ISBN 1-84353-415-0.
- Christe, Ian (2004). The Sound of the Beast. Allison and Bubsy. p. 329. ISBN 0-7490-8351-4.
- Udo, Tommy (2002). Brave Nu World. Sanctuary Publishing. pp. 112–123, 236. ISBN 1-86074-415-X.
- McIver, Joel (2002). "Deftones". Nu-metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk. Omnibus Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-7119-9209-6.
- Deftones To Headline Next Year's Taste of Chaos Tour blabbermouth.net. 2005-10-24. Retrieved on 2013-02-14.
- Thomas, Stephen. "System of a Down - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Thomas, Stephen. "Deftones - Deftones : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "The Beginning of All Things to End - Mudvayne". Allmusic.
- "Violence - Nothingface". Allmusic.
- "System of a Down - System of a Down". Allmusic.
- "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Alternative Metal Bands Follow Zeppelin Lead Records: New releases by Mind Over Four, Warrior Soul, Prong and Flotsam and Jetsam". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1990-05-26. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Kyuss - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- May 04, 2003 - Dean Kuipers - Special to The Times (2003-05-04). "Shaking off the desert's dust - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Begrand, Adrien. "Clutch: Robot Hive / Exodus". PopMatters. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Monster Magnet - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Fudge Tunnel - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Prato, Greg. "Quicksand - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
- Goth Metal. "Goth Metal : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- "Night Life". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Dunham, Elisabeth. "Roll Over Manilow: Thrash funk is here". Lawrence Journel-World. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- Gore, Joe (August 1991). "New Rage: The Funky". Guitar Player via ram.org. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "((( Faith No More > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- November 30, 2011 (2011-11-30). "Kyuss Lives profile; Kyuss Lives interviewed - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2013-01-28. Text "Greg Kot " ignored (help); Text " Music critic " ignored (help)
- Phares, Heather. "Fu Manchu - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
- "Blame Nirvana: The 40 Weirdest Post-'Nevermind' Major-Label Albums | SPIN | Discover | SPIN Lists". SPIN. 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- 10 Essential Alternative metal singles
- Silver Dragon Records: Alternative Metal
- Alternative metal - Nuclear Blast